Sunday, August 09, 2009

Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch ...

According to, a "pawpaw" is an "exotic" Southern fruit that virtually no one knows nothing about ...

Proponents of what could be the next big thing in Southern fruit say equating mainstays of the American lunchbox with their product is like comparing apples to pawpaws.

Unlike apple trees, pawpaw trees can be easily grown without chemical spraying and produce an enormously flavorful fruit. "It's a fantastic fruit," raves Ron Powell, executive director of the Ohio Pawpaw Growers Association, who says the pawpaw beats the apple in every nutritional category but fiber.

The pawpaw -- whose distinctively custardy insides have earned it the nicknames "West Virginia banana," "Kentucky banana" and "Missouri banana" – is an indigenous plant, most likely spread throughout the continent by Native Americans. Its tropical flavor makes the fruit a good fit for jams, breads, pies and wine.

"The beverage industry is interested," says Powell, who successfully lobbied the state of Ohio to honor the pawpaw as its official native fruit. He adds, "It has great potential for ice cream."

But unlike apples, pawpaws remain relatively unknown.

Unknown?! When I was a kid, I not only scooped up dozens and dozens o' pawpaws to be cooked in my Granny's kitchen, I hurled at least as many of 'em at a barn door whilst pretending I was throwing fastballs, Roger Clemens-style.

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